Foundations

Every chance I get, I tell people of the foundation of faith, family, and love on which my parents built their lives. That, in turn, set such a wonderful example for their children and from there, their grandchildren.

I went to stay with them for a couple of weeks a while back as my dad was preparing to begin his journey of treatment for stomach cancer. That treatment consisted of rigorous and brutal chemotherapy, a total gastrectomy (stomach removal), followed by more chemotherapy.

The evening before surgery as I was going to bed, I walked past their room and this is what I saw. Each knelt by the side of their bed, heads bowed in prayer. Prayer has always been an important part of their lives, but this picture, this moment, caused me to pause and catch my breath. And it’s forever etched in my memory.

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Today my dad is cancer free. Their prayer life is every bit as important now as it ever has been. The difference their example has made to their family as well as friends, is without borders.

My question for all of us is what are we doing to make a positive difference in the lives of others–family, friends, and others looking on that we’re unaware of.

My challenge for all of us is this: If you can’t think of anything, why not start now? It’s not too late. It’s never too late.

A person's most useful asset is not a head full of knowledge, but a heart full of love, an ear r

Finding Peace Through Gratitude

Finding Peace Through Gratitude

Writing fiction has always been my passion. Mysteries, cozy mysteries, suspense, contemporary fiction, it doesn’t matter. I love getting lost in the land of make believe, creating characters, settings, and stories, living vicariously through them. And when I read a story, it’s all about being transported into the world of which I’m reading, feeling like I know the characters. It’s that connection that’s critical. And it’s that connection that makes the end of a good book come too soon.

That being said, I’m dipping my toe into some non-fiction writing and working on a book titled Finding Peace Through Gratitude. Its pages are about the storms I’ve weathered in my life, coming out a better person on the other side, all credit given to the two “G” words – God and Gratitude. It’s an interactive book with a challenge for the reader at the end of each chapter. The projected publication date is January 1, 2018.

Hop on over to my non-fiction website if you’re so inclined. It’s a place I’m developing to be calm and peaceful, somewhere to escape the busyness and chaos of the world. A multi-vitamin of sorts. Posts will continue here, on my fiction website, on Wednesdays, and I’ll be posting about nature and gratitude on my non-fiction site on Fridays.

See you there in the quietness.Tranquility!

 

 

 

 

Praying for Strangers

Praying for Strangers

A while back I read the book  Praying for Strangers: An Adventure of the Human Spirit by River Jordan, and at the time I had no idea how that book would impact my life. The book is about the 2009 New Year’s Resolution of an introverted woman whose sons were about to go off to war. Her quest for comfort and to keep her own sanity in the face of every parents nightmare, led to the idea for the perfect resolution–to pray for a complete stranger every day for the following year.

While it seems like such a small act of faith, it grew her faith huge. It became more than a resolution to River, but an exploration of, and journey into, the human spirit. She found that not only did her prayer touch the lives of those she prayed for, but it changed her own life in ways beyond what she ever could have imagined.

After reading the book, I began to think about how frequently I hear people say, “I’ll pray for you.” And how often I have said it without actually thinking of the follow-through. It was simply lip service.

I was so moved by River’s book that I told myself I was going to do the same thing, but that follow-through didn’t happen on an every day basis. What did happen, however, was the awareness of making an effort to follow through when I said I was going to pray.

“I’ll pray for you,” now means I really will pray. I have found that it’s something that costs absolutely nothing yet rewards abundantly.

And the other thing that happened was the compelling awareness at the most unexpected moments to pray for a stranger that is brought to my attention by a God who knows all things.

When I see someone on the street corner holding a sign asking for money, I’m compelled to offer up a prayer for God’s hand in his/her life.

When I see someone crying, I’m compelled to pray for healing.

When I hear someone speaking ill of another, I’m compelled to pray they find peace.

And each time I’m compelled to pray, I’m the one that’s richly blessed.

It gets me out of my own head and self-centeredness and leads me to think about others. It puts others needs before my own. And that’s what helps me grow closer to God. By connecting my human spirit to that of another.

Prayer

“God shapes the world by prayer. The more praying there is in the world the better the world will be, the mightier the forces against evil.”.

– E. M. Bounds

Peace.

 

 

 

 

 

“F” is for…

Faithful

So I couldn’t decide to post on forgiveness or faithfulness, because both are critical for me to live a joyful, successful life.  Faithful, however, seems to jive with my theme a little better for the A to Zing fun, so Faithful it is.

Dictionary.com defines “Faithful” as such:

faith·ful

[feyth-fuhl] Show IPA

adjective

1. strict or thorough in the performance of duty: a faithful worker.
2. true to one’s word, promises, vows, etc.
3. steady in allegiance or affection; loyal; constant: faithful friends.
4. reliable, trusted, or believed.
5. adhering or true to fact, a standard, or an original; accurate: a faithful account; a faithful copy.
“Faith” is a trust or belief in something that is not based on proof. The Bible says in Hebrews 11:1 (NIV), “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”
I think it would be fair to say that most people connect faith with Christianity.  In that way, faith is what I live by.  It is of all-importance to me.  Without faith, I would have nothing.
But “Faithfulness” encompasses such a wider breadth of meaning.
Being faithful to someone is what makes a successful relationship.
Being faithful to one’s beliefs is what gives life its meaning.
Being faithful to my writing is what makes me so incredibly happy and feel successful.  Writing is what sets my mind and heart free to explore the unknown.  It’s what sorts out the complications life brings, helping them to make sense.  Or at the very least, to better cope with them.  It’s sticking with it, through good times and bad, in sickness and in health…
And it’s believing that after the storm of rejections and insecurities will come the calm and serenity that can only be felt by weathering the storm and not quitting.
Being faithful is not giving up. Ever. No matter what.
Today I will strive to be faithful to my loved ones, my God, and my writing.
Peace.

Thankful Thursday – Freedom to Express my Faith

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My faith plays a significant role in my day-to-day thoughts and actions. It’s who I am. Having the freedom to outwardly express my faith, in essence being free to be me, is a freedom I cherish, allowing me to live by faith rather than fear.

I’m so thankful I am able to:

1.     Attend the church of my choice and that I don’t have to follow a religion that has been chosen for me, or follow a set of religious  guidelines set out for me. I can go where and when I choose, allowing me to worship my God rather than live in fear of persecution.

2.    Pray, whether sitting at my desk at work, riding in my car, on a park bench in a public park, or on public transportation .

3.    Wear jewelry as an outward sign of my faith, as well as a visible reminder to myself to whom I belong and serve.

Blue Crystal Cross Necklace

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4.    Write spiritual pieces, whether on this blog, or a faith-based work of fiction, which my work-in-progress is, The Inheritance. I’m in the final stages of editing and am looking forward to sharing it through publication.

5.    Speak of my faith to others without fear, state expressions of faith, and to observe Christian holidays that are important to my spiritual life. (ie: Christmas as Christ’s birth and Easter as the death and resurrection of Christ–the true foundation of my life.)

6.    Display actions that show my faith, whether it be kneeling in reverence to God and in prayer, making the sign of the cross, raising my hands in worship and folding my hands in prayer, or even a loving hug or touch.

I don’t make a practice of screaming my faith for the world to hear, but I am free to express it and live it quietly and gently. And that freedom is priceless.

All is Grace.

What Will People Think?

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That concern has consumed too much mental energy through the years, as well as dictated my words and behaviors on all too many occasions.

It has led to lying and racing to cover up anything that would not be acceptable, sometimes stopping at nothing, magnifying the situation tenfold, in order to control what others would think.  Simply put, manipulate the outcome.

I can trace that fear all the way back to those tumultuous teenage years, wishing I wouldn’t have said or did what I did and wishing I would have said or did what I didn’t.  Sometimes I would obsess over all the “what if’s” for days.

What if people will think I’m stupid?

What if  s/he thinks less of me because of what I said–or did?  I gotta fix that! And the cover-up would begin…

And that would lead to worse behaviors in order to try erase what was, or withdrawing until the shame, humiliation and fear would fade into a more distant memory.

That fear of what people will think continued to monopolize mental energy through the years of being wife, mother friend, divorcee…you get the picture.

If my husband would be unhappy, surely it had to be because of something I did or said. And what would people think?

Or if my kids did or said something that appeared less than acceptable, I would feel shame because surely people would think it had to be my parenting.  Heaven forbid, what would people think?photo (5)

With age comes wisdom.  Yes, some good does come with age.

As my spiritual foundation has gotten stronger and I’ve made it a priority to spend time in prayer and meditation, really getting to know God through His Word, what people will think no longer holds me captive.  The chains have been broken.

Worrying about what people would think of me, made “me” just a little too important.

Once I took the spotlight off of “me”, and deflected it to God, my life became much less stressful as I became more confident.  Less self-focused and more God and others-focused.

What people will think of me is no longer my motivator for what I do or say. Not everyone is going to like me.

And. That. Is. Okay.

And if when I still occasionally experience that fear of what people will think,  I reflect without making it about how I feel,  but rather if I said/did something to make someone else feel less than lifted up.

Let go of what no longer serves you.

Nothing? Then let it go.

If not, make amends so I can let it go. To God. All of it.

And all of me.

All is Grace.